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power and ability to execute their commission, they had an express promise of the help of the Holy Spirit, to preserve them from error and mistake in what they taught, that they might not defeat the intention of Christ, in publishing to the world the essential truths of his doctrine.* These promises, in their primary sense, were peculiar to those who conversed wit him in this world; yet not to the exclusion of others, who might afterwards be called in an extraordinary manner to assist in the great work.t The essentials of this religion, were, no doubt, infallibly delivered and faithfully preserved in the primitive churches, before any writing on the subject was in existence.
From all the consideration which I am able to give the subject, I cannot find in the Scripture any proof that we are required to look upon every thing which any Apostle has left upon record, as the Word of God delivered in every particular by inspiration. The Apostles certainly would not teach any thing as the Gospel of Christ, either by word or by writing, of which they had any doubt or hesitation with respect to its divine authority; but it does not necessarily follow, that every word they spoke, and all that they committed to writing, was immediately dictated by the Holy Spirit. Suppose one of the Apostles were now living, would he be able to put an end to all the contests in the Christian world, which the Bible itself cannot settle? Must we impute all the obscurities in the Sacred Writings (and obscure they undoubtedly are in many parts), to the Holy Spirit? No, rather to the human infirmities of the writers, who, in treating of subjects so sublime, could not express themselves in language so simple and perspicuous, as to convey their meaning to the mind of every reader, so as to prevent the possibility of a mistake.
As long as men will look upon religion as consisting of correct opinions, rather than in moral practice, while they search more into the metaphysical, than the ethical, the practical doctrines of the Gospel, I do not see how the controversies, which shame Christianity, are to have an end, till some fixed laws of interpretation shall be agreed upon by all sects, and constantly adhered to. Men will
* John xvi. 13; xiv. 26.
† Acts i. 21, 22.
1 Cor. xv. 11; 2 Tim. i. 13.
find their different opinions in the Bible, and stake their lives that others do not or will not understand the text. Every one who observes, can readily perceive, how much soever Christians of every denomination refer "to the Law and the Testimony," yet the favourite systems of divinity, do, in reality, decide the Articles of Belief, and though some authority must be referred to, yet as the Church believes, is, after all, with nearly every sect, the only way of determining controversies.
Verses to the Memory of Howard, the Philanthropist. [From the Alma Mater, a Series of Original Pieces, by Students of the University of Glasgow, 1828.]
SHALL the bloody deeds of the warlike plain,
And shall we not raise one purer strain
In honour of acts like thine,
That were wrought afar from the gaze of men
Wherever the dungeon's gloom was deep,
Thy course was onward, and onward still,
For thou hadst a high behest to fulfil,
Till thy heart had perform'd the holy command,
It was not amid the glittering camp,
And the warrior's brightest wreath is dim
And 'twere prouder far to fill thy grave
Where in mid career on the errand to save,
Pilgrim of mercy! rest thee well!
To the Editor of the Christian Pioneer.
ALLOW me to express my gratification at the perusal of some of the numbers of your useful and highly interesting Pioneer. Such a miscellany is much needed in this
The ennobling principles of Non-conformity, have been much neglected, and seemingly forgotten, in the contentions of the two mighty Episcopacies, which afflict this
The Baptists, who formerly were pretty numerous, have been gradually declining. Some, the General Baptists, verged so near the doctrines of Arminius, and yet preached those doctrines so coldly, that many, like the moth round a candle, were attracted by the burning zeal of the Methodists; while others, the Particular Baptists, not pleased with the want of energy, on their particular doctrines, in their preachers, have, by degrees, united themselves to the Independents. There is now no Baptist Church in Dublin; and the one in Cork, scarcely deserves the name, having only about fifteen members, which compose the whole congregation.
The Unitarians-or as some still class themselves under the dubious title of Presbyterians-kept down by the golden chain of the Regium donum, scarce dare to avow. their different doctrines, nor even their direct opposition to the Established Church. And the Independents, engrossed in the fiery doctrines of Calvin, care little to acknowledge their secession from, Alma Mater, and have grown numerous and commanding, from the co-operation of many of the Calvinists of the Church of England. But a spirit of inquiry is abroad, excited by the repeated collision of the two Establishments, which it will be very difficult for them to allay, and the end of which they little know.
It is in this state of things, I think, such a periodical as the Pioneer should be widely circulated. The minds of men are unsettled; the well-informed Roman Catholic, doubting the full authority of his Church, is yet very loathe to yield his assent to that Church, which, though not the Scarlet Lady herself, has pretty strong claims to the relationship of a sister. And the good political Protestant, who detests a Catholic as one tainted, is not a little surprised to find his reformed Church so very similar in doctrine, and worship, and forms, and ceremonies, to that of the one he abhors.
But the Roman Catholics are much the worst off. If they refuse the authority of tradition, and fasts, and observances of penance, are they to join a Church which partly acknowledges and partly denies them? No: they cannot. Yet to what will they flee? On what ground can they stand? I fear too often they lose themselves among the bewildering mazes of infidelity. They see the errors of their own Church, and wander about, without a guide, without an object. It is then that your Pioneer should clear the way, should cut down the underwood, and surmounting his difficulties, open to his view a path "through golden vistas into heaven.'
I am glad to see the Pioneer, also, because I think it goes to rebut the argument which has been urged, I fear with too much truth, at least here, against the Unitarians, for want of zeal in their religion. It is ked, "Where are their periodicals their missionaries? Other sects exert themselves with a conscious integrity, for the spread of their opinions, and send missionaries abroad with Christian zeal and interest in the eternal happiness of their fel
low-creatures. But the Socinians or Unitarians, cloak over their opinions, and with the odium theologicum on them, fear to stand forth and avow what they think truth! Their ministers, also, exert themselves but little; and where other sects have, with one preacher, two services on the Sunday, and one in the week, they are satisfied with the cold formality of one on the Sabbath, and for this they have two ministers."
We must acknowledge the truth of the latter part of this accusation; the former is answered by the number of excellent periodicals now published by the Unitarians; but, I think, it may be fairly put down to that gag, the Regium donum. When that shall be removed from the mouth of the Unitarians of this country, then, and not till then, will the Unitarians be able to stand forth like men, and openly endeavour to propagate the pure and undefiled religion of Jesus. To this charge we have, undoubtedly, some few exceptions, yet they are only exceptions; but the principal cause of the decline and tergiversation of sincere Christians, has been the ignorance of what they believed.
A brighter day is, however, now breaking on Ireland; and as the day-spring of truth is beaming on us, I fervently pray, it may not be long before we shall be witnesses of its meridian splendour.
I am, SIR, yours, &c.
Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Opinions of the Rev.
We notice the work above mentioned, in order to extract from it some passages in proof of the evangelical character of the creed of the subject of the memoirs, as well as to lay before our readers one or two other particulars calculated to recommend correct principles.
The eloquent writer gives us the following account of the candour and liberality of Dr. Parr: "His great and amiable candour, a virtue in the spirit and practice of which, it may almost be said that he was perfect. Such was the warm breathing, and such the wide extent of his charity, that spurning the narrow bounds of mere tol